This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

Monthly Archives: February 2017

Abstract Expressionism Art

History

The artists related to this movement were a group of very diverse individuals, who came together in New York’s Greenwich village. The major ones were Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Lee Krasner, Mark Tobey, Kenneth Noland, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, and William de Kooning. Their works vary greatly; from the brooding melancholic works of Rothko to the more flamboyant pieces of Pollock. This movement promoted the painting of abstract work instead of any representation. It was greatly criticized by the critics who considered it to be too avant-garde due to its lack of figuration and bold brush strokes. Due to the depression, and crisis brought on by the war, the artists started to depict human vulnerability.

Description

Several artists during the above mentioned period, started experimenting with different shapes and colors. They broke away from conventional painting styles, and painted huge canvases in blue, orange, red, or other bold colors. The movement is characterized by splattering of paint and powerful brush strokes. The artists preferred larger canvases that were positioned on the floor over canvases that were easel bound and moderate. The focus of this art was not in mere portrayal of objects, but the expression of emotions. There was in fact, an almost aggressive application of paint, which created a highly intense and dynamic imagery. Jackson Pollock created a revolutionary new technique of splattering and pouring thinned oil paint into a canvas, which was laid on the ground instead of being supported by easels.

Broadly speaking, this art consisted of two streams – Color Field Painting and Action Painting. The former was developed during the early part of 1960s, and involved creating art that was based on simplified and larger than life color dominated fields. The compositions were huge colored areas with no recognizable forms or signs. The artist’s goal was to create a work of art, which was sublime and ethereal, rather than plainly beautiful. Rothko in particular painted soft blurring rectangles of luminescent color, which never failed to impress the viewers. In addition to Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly and Helen Frankenthaler were some other painters, which were associated with this type of painting. Action Painting arose prior to Color Field Painting (between the 1940s and 1950s), and was practiced by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline.

This movement peaked between 1942 to the mid 50s. It shifted the focus of the art world from Paris and Europe to America. This greatly influenced new generations of artists, who created their own art based on their individual expressions. By late 1969, the interest in this movement began to wane, and new movements such as minimalism and pop art, strongly began to influence the art community.

Aboriginal Art: Five Most Fascinating Facts

Based on their ‘Creation Myths’
Every art form that is Aboriginal, is primarily based on their ancient myths and legends. Even the modern pieces of Aboriginal art are based on ‘the Dreamtime’, a set of their creation myths. These ‘Dreamtime’ myths, which are more than 50,000 years old, are a great storehouse of their oral heritage which has been handed down from generation to generation. Interestingly, our only source of the ‘Dreamtime’ stories, of course other than the Aborigines themselves, is Aboriginal art, owing to the fact that we have no written sources of the same.

More than just Art
The Aborigines did not seem to believe in the philosophy of ‘art for art’s sake’. On the contrary, the Aborigines wrote through their arts. We get a large number of references with respect to their day-to-day lives, festivities and celebrations, modes of pastime, religious beliefs, social structure, hunting practices and so on. Apart from being a mode of expression and depiction, art was also used as a platform to maintain secrecy. After the colonization of Australia, the Aborigines felt that their spiritual and clandestine knowledge was in danger, and so it was thought that there needed to be a system with which they could hide it from the eyes of ‘outsiders’. The famous Aboriginal dot paintings resulted from this fear. It is believed that the dots were purposely made over holy symbolic depictions so that they could obscure the sacred knowledge.

More than what Meets the Eye
The depictions of Aborigines were naturalistic, as well as abstract in nature. The term ‘naturalistic’ refers to the depiction of natural surroundings, flora and fauna. So, we have depictions of animals, plants, people and other natural phenomena in various forms. On the other hand, the term ‘abstract’ refers to depictions, which may seem unrealistic at a first glance, but may in actuality possess much deeper connotations. So, we also have a huge array of drawings with geometrical shapes and symbols, which we, as the ‘other’ may not understand, but the Aborigines would definitely do.

Use of Natural Colors and Stabilizers
The colors used for their paintings were obtained from natural and locally available materials, predominantly ochre, a natural mineral, which was ground on a stone slab while adding small amounts of water and stabilizing agent. Red, yellow and white colors were obtained from different pigments of ochre, and so we see a wide usage of these colors in Aboriginal paintings. Black was obtained from charcoal, but was rarely used owing to the complicated procedure of making it. Olive color, which can be seen in some of the paintings was obtained by mixing black and yellow colors. It is very fascinating how the ancient Aborigines figured out a natural resource in the juice of an orchid plant, which could be used as a fixative to avoid flaking or peeling of the paint. Modern Aboriginal artists on the other hand, use artificial colors as well.

The Aboriginal Art Movement
Modern techniques of depicting Aboriginal art forms on canvas and paper, came into being some 40 years ago in 1971, when a school teacher named Geoffrey Bardon, noticed a group of Aboriginal men telling stories and drawing symbols in sand. This caught his interest and he encouraged those men to depict their stories on canvas and paper, two media, which were completely alien to them before that day. Thus started the famous ‘Aboriginal Art Movement’ which encouraged more and more Aboriginal artists to present their works before the world and become famous. Some non-Aboriginal artists also showed their interest in this art form, and began to practice it. Not surprisingly, Aboriginal art is considered to be the most inspiring contemporary art of the 20th century.

Intriguing Facts

♣ Bark paintings are the oldest forms of Aboriginal paintings. However, not many of them survive today due to natural disintegration of the bark.
♣ Aboriginal art symbols are collectively known as iconography. Aboriginal people traveled long distances across their country and recorded information regarding their travel in the form of symbols.
♣ A particular Aboriginal art symbol would have multiple meanings. Only an Aborigine, who knew his history and culture would be able to decipher what symbol had what meaning in what context.
♣ Numerous Aboriginal paintings have been discovered on sacred sites. This throws light on their sacred connotations.
♣ As remnants of the ancient Aboriginal culture, we have what has been termed as ‘aerial landscape art’ created across the Australian deserts. These cannot be figured out easily from the ground level, but a bird’s-eye view of these sites gives us a feel that we are actually looking at wonderful sculptures.
♣ The X-ray style paintings are one of the distinctive features of Aboriginal art. Apart from the outer bodies of the animals/humans, the internal organs and bones are also depicted in them. This also shows that the ancient Aborigines did have an idea of animal/human anatomy.
♣ There are two museums, which have been specially dedicated to the Aboriginal arts and crafts. These are the Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art, located in Utrecht in the Netherlands, and the Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia, known as the Kluge-Ruhe.
♣ Body painting is an art that is of great cultural significance for the Aborigines. The motifs, which are painted on their bodies, particularly during religious ceremonies, not only signify their social status, but also depict totemic symbols of various clans by which they can be identified.
♣ Aboriginal art forms include their sculptures and specially carved pearl shells called ‘Rijis’. Sacred patterns are carved on these shells, thus giving them religious affiliations. We also have a number of small sculptures of imp-like creatures, locally known as the ‘Mimis’. They are believed to have taught the Aborigines’ ancestors to hunt and to make use of fire. Hence, they are revered beings.

Characteristics of Realistic Art

Realism in visual arts is basically about moving over the interpretation, personal bias, subjectivity or emotionalism and depicting the painting theme in an empirical sense. Realists rejected the characteristics of Romantic art as they believed in portraying objects with a sense of objective reality. Thus, the artists didn’t use techniques to change the appearance of the object. For instance, an artist who follows the Realistic art tradition would never attempt to conceal any flaws in the object or scene he/she is painting. The Realism art movement can also be associated with the age of positivism. Positivism is all about gaining knowledge using scientific methods of observation and objective evaluation. In art, this translates to depiction of objects as they are. One must not allow subjectivity and imagination to affect the depiction of the objects. Realism in art is all about rejecting idealization. Those who follow the realistic tradition in art believe in an accurate portrayal of ordinary people and events. The artist’s muse shouldn’t be someone who is larger-than-life or glorious always. This explains why artists who follow this tradition didn’t believe in painting the Gods, Goddesses or heroes. Their aim was to depict the daily life with as much accuracy as possible.

Realists basically draw inspiration from contemporary life. The subject matter of their paintings generally includes daily scenes and ordinary people.They depict contemporary life in a realistic and accurate manner. For instance, after industrial revolution, many of the famous paintings from Realistic school of art depicted workers performing their tasks in factories. They tried to depict the workers as they looked. However ugly or unaesthetic the surroundings looked, the painter painted them with honesty, just as they existed. No changes were made to make them look aesthetically pleasing. If you go through the famous painters list, you will come across names such as Gustave Courbet, Honore Daumier, Jean-Francois Millet, John Singer Sargent, James McNeil Whistler, Jan Van Eyck and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. These were some of the famous painters who followed this art tradition. Movements such as the Ashcan School, the Contemporary Realist, and the American Scene Painters are also based on this art tradition. These painters believe in the painting what they see. The logic given by these artists is that the abstract objects, or the objects that are intangible or non-existent, don’t belong to the realm of painting.

The rejection of the Romantic art tradition is an important aspect of Realistic art. Painting ordinary people and daily scenes in a realistic manner is the objective of this form of art.

The Magical World of Surrealist Paintings

Towards the end of the First World War, many artists who had moved to different parts of the world from Paris became proponents of the Dadaism movement which held the belief that the war was a result of excessive rationalization, and an increase in bourgeois living. The way in which Dadaists protested the war was with anti-art movements, different performances, art works, and literary works. History tells us that the first seeds of thought regarding the Surrealist movement were conceptualized from the remnants of the Dadaism movement. The person who can be called the founder of the Surrealism movement was Andre Breton who regarded the movement a form of revolution. The definition as given by him says that it is a “pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.”

Extremely influenced by Freudian theories, Surrealism is in a manner the expression of imagination as seen in one’s dreams. The entire gamut of Freud’s theories that dealt with free association, analysis of dreams, and of the unconscious, were extremely important to the artists who were a part of this movement. Most artists of the movement laid their claim on eccentricity without an acceptance of being mad. As can be figured out from what Salvador Dali very famously said, “There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.”

Another important characteristic of the movement was the juxtaposition of elements that were rarely ever actually featured together. The aim behind combining two disparate elements was to create something that shocked and startled. Most artists of the movement aimed at breaking the shackles that bound people to conventional, rational behavior, and customs and traditions.

One of the most famous painters on a Surrealist canvas was very obviously Salvador Dali, who helped popularizing this art movement. A lot has been said and written about the relation between the art movement and Dali and the effect that the artist had on the way people perceived this artistic movement. If you study the art form in detail, you will see that there is a lot of technique involved, as well as focus on content. But despite this, there was an attempt to appreciate what an untrained artist would see as art. This stemmed from the belief that free from rules, a mind tends to be more imaginative in the ideas it generates.

Most artists who painted in the Surrealist form, used free association and one of two methods of expression; Absolute Surrealism and Veristic Surrealism. While the former believed in the expression of ideas of the subconscious, the latter focused on creating a connection between the abstract and the real. Salvador Dali worked in the Veristic school, often juxtaposing images from the real world with imaginary situations. It is believed that movements of the art world like Abstract Expressionism and Magic Realism were born from this movement. Lowbrow art is also a throwback from this art movement.

It is difficult to understand this movement completely without maybe taking a lesson. Paintings like Elle Loge La Folie, Indefinite Divisibility, or Woman with Her Throat Cut, are works that just give you an insight into the shock and awe that Surrealism art inspires.